Santa Rosa double murder-suicide: Mom speaks out

SANTA ROSA (KTVU) -- A North Bay mother who lost her two children to a tragic double murder-suicide has issued a statement saying that she warned authorities her children were in danger with their father.

Six-year-old Juliana and 18-month-old Julian Camara died during a custodial visit with their father during Father's Day weekend.

40-year-old Alvaro Camara hung himself in his apartment, after killing the kids, rather than return them to their mother, who lives six miles away.

Outside her home the fence is adorned with flowers and bouquets that line the road and fill mailboxes as tributes to the children.

Their mother writes that she is "distraught and upset" and "struggling to make sense of this horrific situation."

She describes the siblings as "my precious and innocent children beyond loved by family, friends and community".

She also acknowledges that hers are not the only children ever killed by an estranged spouse, urging: "Please help me spread stories like this to raise awareness that is much needed to prevent anything like this happening to another family."

Investigators are combing through the history of calls from the couple, after they initiated a turbulent divorce in February.

"There was no indication that he was a danger to himself or the children or anybody," Lt. Mike Lazzarini of the Santa Rosa Police Dept. told KTVU.

Lazzarini acknowledged Connie Camara called authorities five times over two and a half days, worried about her kids while they visited Alvaro.

Saturday night, she said, Camara was calling and texting her in anger, accusing her of having an affair.

Police did a welfare check at the Slater Street apartment, and advised Camara to stop harassing his ex.

"Again no crimes had been committed, there were disagreements, arguments between the couple," said Lazzarini, "and the six year old girl who was there was contacted by the officers."

At that point Juliana was fine. The next day, Alvaro spent Father's Day with both children. But when their mom came to pick them up as scheduled, no one answered his door, and instead she had a disconcerting phone conversation with Alvaro.

"The last thing that he said was he was out of town," recounted Lt. Lazzarini.

Oddly, Camara's dirt-encrusted car was still in it's parking space. Neighbors said he rarely drove it after getting a DUI. And a trace of his phone later, showed it was actually inside his apartment.

Sunday night, deputies knocked but didn't try to go in.

"There wasn't enough to go on at that particular point," explained Lt. Lazzarini, "and you can't just go into somebody's house without any further information."

Alarmed, Mrs. Camara made three more phone calls through the night until her final call at 9 a.m. Monday.

Within an hour, deputies climbed through a bathroom window of Camara's apartment, and found the bodies.

"I sought help on numerous occasions and said many, many, many times my children were in danger in their father's care", reads a portion of the mother's statement.

The weekend was the children's first visit with their father under a shared-custody order approved in family court only three days before. An arrangement their mother had clear misgivings about.

She concludes : "I didn't receive the urgent help I needed to save them".

Relatives have established a YouCaring fund to help offset burial expenses for the children.

Autopsies scheduled for Wednesday should determine cause of death for them, which was not obvious, and also narrow a time of death as well.

Read the mother's letter in its entirety:

Community of Sonoma County,

I sit here at 7:06am on Tuesday June 20, 2017 swaddled in my daughter's blanket and drinking tea from a cup that reads "I love you mom", fighting back the tears and struggling to make sense of this horrific situation. As I hear updates and stories coming out in regards to my children's identity and pictures of them without my knowledge I am visibly distraught and upset. They are my precious innocent children that were beyond loved by their family, friends and community. I know I am not the only person that is or has gone through this horrific unimaginable situation, so please help me spread stories like this to raise awareness that is much needed to help prevent anything like this happening to another family. I sought help on numerous occasions and said many many many times my children were in danger in their fathers care and I didn't receive the urgent help I needed to save them.

- A mother no longer able to hold her children.